The main ministry the Lord has put on our heart to help raise support for, is the "Orphans kNOw More" ministry started by African YWAMers.
It started with them taking in the orphans left and right, as they would care for their parents who were dying of Aids.
No support, no money, lots of love ~
~ and faith ~
And then, along came a YWAM family in the UK to bring support - after their 8-year-old daughter heard from God that she was to take care of orphans.
Long story - Orphans kNOw More was born out of that.
As I wrote in my last post, these families do a MOST OUTSTANDING labor of love for the orphans and I have the highest admiration and respect for them! I know I would NOT be able to do what they are doing!
As a matter of fact, when I was in the plane on the way back from Uganda, I felt like lying on the dirt - face down - for a month (of course this wasn't possible, are you kiddin' me?).
I felt SOOOO very humbled!!!!
... by the way people in Uganda lived.
... and by the way the local people are reaching out in the most self-less ways and caring for the orphans and widows around them!
The solidarity is just amazing!
Before going to Uganda, I always saw myself involved in orphanages.
After being there, I am convinced that the orphan care model of OKM is so much better!
In an orphanage, the children's physical needs may be taken care of very well, but they grow up with changing caregivers and the stigma of being an orphan.
And who will they go to and relate to once they're adults if they've grown up in an orphanage?
Nothing beats being part of a family!
That's GOD's design!
"GOD SETS THE LONELY IN FAMILIES."
Healthy ones, full of love!
In this photo, the dad is missing (he's a pastor and was just busy when the photo was taken)
The children have a sense of belonging and the consistent love and care of parents.
Talk about 24/7 discipleship happening in those homes!
In the pilot project in Jinja, there are 9 core families.
Most of them are YWAMers/pastors.
They live scattered in the communities, not in some kind of compound.
It's the most natural and cost-efficient orphan care model.
Each of the core families have satellite families they care for.
These are widows with children.
In Uganda, widows are helpless and vulnerable and really need the care and protection of a "man in the house" kind of situation.
So the core family's fathers act as father for all the widow's children as well, which includes going to school meetings, looking after these children's extended families, including their grandmothers etc.
It's a incredible amount of practical work, running around here and there, caring for everyone that's all scattered.
It is not an easy model.
Not easy to fund-raise for, as there's no "building", or "compound" that you can take photos of and "advertise" or have people visit easily.
We did get to visit with lots of the families, but it took people's time to take us around, which is something they can't do continually - on top of their already stretched days.
This model is not easy for the parents.
In an orphanage, staff are on shifts and get time off and if it gets too much, they can always resign and find another job, right?!
In a family?
Not a chance!
It's 24/7 care - no breaks - and folks, these people don't have vacations - ever!
Many of the couples are young and just starting their own families.
Others, like the families in my last post, have been doing this since they got married - now children are getting older.
Can you imagine taking older children into your home, including teenagers, with traumas and grief etc after you just get married!
The only support they have are each other.
No social services to give on-going support and training, like we've got here in NZ.
(there is 1 social worker regularly visiting the families and giving a bit of support, but it's very limited)
The more experienced help the new ones.
Even financially (they get help through OKM, but it mostly just covers the education costs for the children)
BUT - It's rewarding!
And worth it!
We got to hear some of the testimonies of these children.
As one girl said at the end of her heart-breaking story:
"I am so happy now, because I now have parents and a family.
I get to go to a good school and everybody knows that I've got a momma and a papa.
It's so wonderful!"
Most all of them (if not all) want to reproduce what they've experienced.
Take in children once they get married (some of them have).
Support the ministry once they finish their education and get a job.
This is one of the satellite families - the one that we were able to bless with a small water tank with the gifts we got to take.
We saw how far the children had to walk to get water every day.
It was such a joy to designate the water tank for them!